You can forgive me if I remember this Open as the one where Tom Watson made it to a playoff against Stewart Cink.
Whether Watson lost or was beaten by Cink, the most incredible thing is that Watson was there.
This was not Rocco Mediate at the US Open, Ricky Barnes or David Duval at Bethpage. This was not Paul Lawrie, Trevor Immelman or any other random major winner you can think of.
This was a 59-year-old, 5 time major champion who beat all of the world’s best golfers(except Alex Noren) for 72 holes.
Stop for a minute. Just think how incredible that is. Watson has played on the champions tour 5 times this year, with only one top ten finish. Watson had missed 5 straight cuts in Major championships. He hasn’t finished higher than T-41 at a major in SIX years.
Yet, somehow Watson stood in the middle of the 18th fairway needing only a par to become the oldest major champion ever. Stop again. That is incredible.
An average player with less than 20 rounds played on the major tours worldwide can be expected to win a tournament .005% of the time against a field of this strength. That is almost 18,000-1. To put it into more perspective, If Tiger has a 30% chance of winning a tournament, it is actually more likely that he wins 8 in a row than Watson wins one.
There has to be something to be said for Watson’s major championship pedigree. While my numbers and Vegas disrespected him equally, Watson kept plodding along. Think about it, What was Watson’s signature shot?
The putt on 18 on Friday? Maybe, but there wasn’t much. Watson played the most consistent of anyone. He never really hit that ball that close, but didn’t hit it anywhere bad until the playoff, he didn’t make a ton of long putts, but by somewhere around the 16th fairway Watson was the tournament favorite.
Two holes later, Watson stood on the 18th fairway, 8 iron in hand, needing only to get down in three shots for his 6th Open Championship. Regardless of the outcome, that will always be the story from this week.
Watson played the steadiest of anyone this week for 71.5 holes. That he couldn’t quite finish doesn’t make that any less incredible.
Langston Hughes once asked, “what happens to a dream defered?”
Apparently, it finishes second at a major championship.
This has been the year where sentimental favorites have all been crushed late on the final day of majors. Perry blew up at Augusta, Phil fell short at Bethpage, and with the whole world rooting for him, Watson just couldn’t close it out at Turnberry.
That leaves Stewart Cink as the newest member of the heartless bastards known as major champions this year. Cink, Glover, Cabrera, all good players in their own right, but will the memories of them hoisting the trophy be remembered longer than Tom Watson contending once again. Doubtful.
Not to rain on anyone’s parade here but I find it hard to believe that the slew of shocking contenders(Barnes, Duval, Watson, Norman) as well as players building careers in their late 40s(Perry, Vijay) in the past few years is a coincidence.
Like in Baseball, when guys started pounding out ridiculous paces of home runs at older and older than ever, there is probably something at work here. Luckily, for Golf it probably doesn’t involve the integrity of the players, but the integrity of the equipment.
Cavity back irons, better golf balls, hybrid clubs, bigger headed drivers, u-grooved wedges, optimized ball flight from launch monitors, have all worked to take some of the skill out of golf. For 99.9% of golfers, who find it hard enough already, this is a good thing.
But, for the touring pro this really levels the playing field. I’ve said it many times before, but give everyone blade irons and persimmon woods and the Tiger, Phil and Sergio’s of the world are at the top of the leader board a lot more.
It will never happen, but I would love to see the tour adopt a pro standard for clubs that limits what types of clubs players can use at pro tournaments. Hey, you can’t use a metal bat in the major leagues, right?
Yeah, I’m an idiot
133. Tom Watson
Reasonable Chance to win: 0%
My Field Ranking: N/A
A past win at Turnberry doesn’t count for much when you only have 1 top ten in 5 starts on the Champions Tour. At 60 years old, Tom may hit a few good shots, but has very little chance to make it to the weekend.
79. Stewart Cink
Vegas Odds: 130-1.
Reasonable Chance to win: .03%
My Field Ranking: 74/125
Cink went from being one of the most unheralded very strong American Players to basically falling off the map in a span of one year. I blame twitter.
42. Mathew Goggin
Vegas Odds: 300-1
Chance to win: .80%
My Field Ranking: 39/125
Goggin is the best price of anyone at 300+, in my opinion. This will be his first open since he missed the cut in 2006, but Goggin does nothing but put up non-flashy results. He hits a lot of greens in the US, which could be key, and he is a legitimately good player to be getting 300-1.
26. Lee Westwood
Vegas Odds: 28-1
Chance to win: 1.01%
My Field Ranking: 26/125
Westwood might be another good fade oppurtunity this week as he remains a seemingly popular figure and a few good recent showings look like they have gotten folks back on the bandwagon.
70. Chris Wood
Vegas Odds: 250-1
Chance to win: .09%
My Field Ranking: 83/125
Wood is young has a lot of potential and most notably finished in the top-5 of last year’s Open Championship as an amateur. Since then, it has been a little up and down like most young players, but he does have 3 top ten finishes in his last 4 European events.
21. Luke Donald
Vegas Odds: 100-1
Chance to win: .88%
My Field Ranking: 23/125
Donald continues to struggle with the wrist problems but if healthy I absolutely love him this week. Donald has never really showed well in an Open Championship, but I think he can contend this week.
Nice Picture, Johnny.
The Michelangelo of MS Paint needs his due.
As always, let me know if you think I messed something up.
Hoopinion is still in front with 44 total. After that is is AM with 27, and Golf is fun with 26. I’ll put the rest up later tonight on the Contest page.
A thought on Tiger
Tiger is clearly not as good as he was last year and there could be a variety of reasons for that. Mainly, he played so absurdly well last season that it is just hard to recapture. There was a bigger difference between Tiger and Phil(#2) than Phil and the average PGA Tour golfer. There is almost no margin of error in being that good and its not surprising that coming off a knee injury(Ernie Els!) Tiger still isn’t up to 100%. Even so, Tiger is still not a lock to make the cut. It’s bound to happen once and awhile where he misses it, for whatever reason it was just this week. Luckily, there was a pretty interesting story to follow anyway.